The Astero Question and Covert Op "Buff" Problems

EVE online is probably very rich indeed for its story and environment and depth of exploration, and one of the frontline ships in this exploration is the Astero. Available to most Alpha players, although maximum capacity of this ship is usually touted with “do not undock this ship without Covert Ops Clock.” Which then shifts the Astero into the realm of the Omega Clones.

However, the main question is, is the Astero too powerful for its class? Technically not a Covert Op ship, but its fighting power and benefits make it fully capable to taking on Cruisers and Battlecruisers and winning alone. In Small Gangs these ships can tackle far more powerful big game than one would think.

The Astero is a frigate par excellence. Although many prefer the Wyrm for Abyssals because of its 20% shield resistance bonus and 300% light drone bonus, the Astero can field a 20% armor resistance bonus which conveniently is buffed by skills and modules and 100% hitpoint drones. Which range from light combats all the way to Sentry Drones.

The main hang up with the Astero is its two high slots, but with a 100% cloak bonus [which Covert Ops ships have to upgrade to V to get such benefits] this is not mostly even worried about. Standard Astero fitting dictates that the ship is fit with Covert Cloak and a Probe/Expanded Probe Launcher. On paper the Astero should be weaker than most T2 Cov Ops. But the Astero can ruthlessly prosecute and fight opponents far larger and well equipped and come out on top.

Astero allows alot of players to enter into exploration rather comfortably even engage in fairly low level PVE with its drone options. It is probably only eclipsed by AT ships and the Pacifier. Pacifier can out fit and weapon it, but the trade off is the total lack of drones. And its shield bonus requires a pretty high security status. Theoretically giving Concord ships with the right implants and upgrades 75-100% armor/shield rep bonuses, if stacked with the max security status.

So Asteros are considered the dominate exploration ship because of all the options they have. Although Covert Ops get a higher 50% scan power bonus, they were before buff rather flimsy, but later they even got worse. Why do you ask?

Look at the bonuses pre-buff vs. post buff.
Cheetah
+25% small projectile damage and +50% small projectile optimal range bonus Pre-“Buff” vs. +25% velocity under cloak and -75% warp capacitor usage.
Helios
+25% small hybrid damage and +50% light drone thermal damage Pre-“Buff” vs. 25% velocity under cloak and -75% warp capacitor usage.
Anathema
+25% rocket damage -25% capacitor recharge Pre-“Buff” vs. 25% increase in probe power and -75% warp capacitor usage
Buzzard
+25% Kinetic Light Missile and Rocket Damage +25% rate of fire bonus for light missile and rocket launchers Pre-“Buff” vs. 25% increase in probe power and -75% warp capacitor usage.

Ironically the Covert Op “Buff” actually nerfed the ships in weird ways. although the increased lower and mid slots for some ships was a side buff, but because of the neutralization of combat bonuses. players can’t compete with the Astero.

The Combat Bonuses should have been kept.
All ships should have gotten under cloak velocity bonuses.
The Survey Probe Launcher Bonus needs to be removed from the Cov Ops and bonused for the Utility Frigate.
Warp Capacitor Usage Bonus is “debateable” but should be a role bonus not a race/cov op bonus.
The +1 low slot and the +1 upper slot balancing makes sense. Although in the case of many ships this is a bit anemic.

The Astero is specifically designed to operate in dangerous regions of space. It’s in the description in fact:
"It is particularly adept at venturing into dangerous territories, not merely in recovering whatever may be of interest but also in being able to safely bring it back. "

You have to gimp quite a bit of your fit for Expanded Probe Launchers, and it will likely end up under 5k EHP with a single small rep for near 150M ISK. And with no bonus to recalibration it is hardly an insta-locker. More likely a warp-in ship, which would be better served with a Covert Ops bonused ship?

There are people who adapt and successfully hunt Astero with Covert Ops, like this guy for example:

Overall the Astero does quite well for a frigate. But isn’t really oppressive in it’s role

It seems to me the issue lies more with your feelings about Covert Ops ships, and not with nerfing the Astero.
And on that point I agree, the Buzzard, Anathema, Helios and Cheetah should have 100% CPU reduction for Cloaking Modules as a Role Bonus (like the Pacifier). Add a 10%/Level reduction in CPU for fitting Probe Launchers.

If you want to nerf the Astero, reducing the drone bay to 50m3 would be my choice.

Astero versus T2 explorers:

Astero:

  • can fight
  • lower skill requirements
  • available for Alphas

T2 explorer:

  • better scanning potential
  • faster warp
  • much cheaper
  • faster cloaked movement or scan deviation bonus
  • can be nullified

The Astero is a good ship if you want to be able to fight, or if you have low SP. If you’re looking for the fastest way to do relic and data sites and are planning to run rather than fight, the T2 explorers are much better.

I make most of my ISK exploring and do so in T2 explorers. The last time I used an Astero was during one of those events where I had to fight inside sites, but apart from the combat ability the Astero is worse than the T2 explorers for exploration.

The Astero is very powerful and fun in that zone when you’re growing as an explorer. It’s so good for that all around experience.

But as you progress in SP and in playstyle, lots of other frigate hulls do various jobs better, and the supremacy of the Astero starts to fade.

I love it from a design perspective because it gives so many players a chance to fight while doing exploration, instead of just feeding to rocket fit bombers in their explo ships.

I think all these ships are in a great place, especially since CovOps just got significant updates.

I have an Astero and I love it!

Here’s my thoughts on all this:

  • Yes you can fly an Astero as an Alpha or an Omega with T1 fits. But why? She deserves better. when I got my first Astero it took me 2.5 months to train up on the skills for T2 fits (including the covert ops cloak) that a ship of that caliber deserves to be used with. You will appreciated it much more.

  • I don’t think of an Astero as a “combat” ship. She’s an exploration frigate with better than average combat capability (armor resists and drone support). But not an attack frigate.

  • If you look at the zkill’s made by Asteros the majority are either as part of a fleet/group or against T1 frigates or miners.

  • IMO the best defense for an Astero is a combinate of your survival skills and speed tanking. With 4 low slots you can speed tank her greatly. I can get my Astero to go from zero to warp in 1.64 seconds (according to the sim window). That’s practically instawarp! :sunglasses:

  • I take my Astero into low for great hacking. Haven’t tried null yet. The lack of a nullifier is concerning. And it’s too much gank candy in a WH. I use a cheaper T1 for that.

  • I also fly Cheetah and Helios, and while I agree they are great covert ops ships I’d rather use an Astero (if it weren’t for the lack of nullifier).

  • An Astero can be effectively used as a tackle ship as part of a fleet. The drones are a bonus to the overall fleet effectiveness.

Overall I have no plans to stop flying my Astero. As an exploration/hacking ship she’s awesome! And very iconic for the game. :+1: :+1: